How I Make Yogurt

 Yogurt is really easy to make.

Once you get the right instructor. 

For me, it was our friends Ani and Zareh.  They are Armenian and grew up knowing how to make delicious yogurt.  It is Zareh who gave me the instructions below. 

Due to my independent streak, I attempted wavering from his recipe…I used a plastic bowl instead of glass or I put it in a jar in the oven with the oven light on instead of insulated on the counter or I didn’t do the finger test right or I wrapped blankets around the bowl instead of towels or…or…or…

But I finally gave in to conformity and did it like he told me.  THAT’S when it finally worked out.  I’d strongly recommend you conform too.

Start with a half-gallon of milk.  With practice, you can do more or less.  I use raw goat’s milk.  He uses grocery store pasteurized cow’s milk.  Either one works.  Heat your milk to almost boiling then pour it into a glass bowl.   I heat it in the glass bowl in the microwave.  He heats it on the stove then pours it into a glass bowl.  (That’s the ONLY thing I do differently). 

Then get your starter ready.  You already bought it at the grocery store, before you started making this yogurt.  It is in the dairy section and is labeled very trickily “Yogurt”. 

Yes.  Yogurt.

Many people, including this people, were scared to make yogurt or thought it would be too hard because of the starter.  (I used to shudder at the thought, wondering what it was and where one could get it.)  The recipes say…or the yogurt experts say…mix in your starter.

Well, now the cat’s outta the bag.

A starter is just yogurt.  From someone else’s homemade batch, from your own homemade batch or from the grocery store.

Just be sure it is plain yogurt with “Live Active Cultures.”  I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be considered yogurt if they were “Dead Active Cultures” but haven’t gotten into that yet.

 Put your starter into a bowl.  For a half-gallon of milk, use about 1/4 cup of starter.  If the word starter scares you, see above.

Then, mix in a little regular milk just to get the starter kind of runny.

Now:  DO THE FINGER TEST.  Dip your finger into the hot milk.  If it is hot, but not so hot that you have to pull your finger out, it is ready.  If that’s too vague of a description, dip your finger in.  Count to 10.  If you don’t come out with a 3rd degree burn on your finger and your forehead sweating bullets, then it’s ready.

So, temper it with about a cup or so of the heated milk.  Temper it means to slowly add the warm milk to the starter while stirring the starter so that the starter heats up slowly but doesn’t curdle.  If it curdles, you’ll still have yogurt, it’ll just be grainy.

As long as the hot milk passed the finger test, you can now add the starter mixture. 

Pour it in, slowly, while stirring to mix it throughout the warm milk.

Put a plastic cutting board on the counter.

Then spread out two bath towels.  Preferably clean ones.

One going north to south, the other going east to west.  Translation:  One going one direction, the other going the other direction.

Start wrapping one side over the top of the bowl, pulling tight so the towel doesn’t fall into the bowl.  Tuck it in around the bowl.

Then wrap the other side up and over.

Repeat the wrapping process with the second towel.

Let it sit at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

My milk was a little too hot when I put the starter in, so I think that’s why my yogurt came out so thick and with bubbles on the top.  It is also more sour because it was hot. 

But that there is some GOOD yogurt. 

Now, add honey and vanilla or add pure maple syrup or add stevia drops or add granola or add fruit or, like Ani and Zareh do, add water to half a glass of yogurt and drink it!

-  The Goat Cheese Lady

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About The Goat Cheese Lady

I am Lindsey. I am an urban farmgirl attempting to balance city and farm life. I make cheese. I milk goats. I am married to the Animal Whisperer, man of exceptional knowledge and patience, I have two boys who are louder than my sister and I ever were, two big dogs, a few milking goats, some egg laying chickens and rabbits. Coyotes, rattlesnakes, deer, bear, and bobcats are frequent visitors. Just around the corner is the city. The pool. Yoga. The neighborhood friends. But we...and our farm...are hidden...by the rocks.
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9 Responses to How I Make Yogurt

  1. Pingback: The Goat Cheese Lady’s 10 ways for using goat milk | soapmaking.org.uk

  2. mom4truth says:

    Thank you, Bonnie. I will try that. Mine turned out rather runny- which worked well for cereal and thick milk drinks, but not so much for that yogurt-y experience I was going for.

    Round Two: Ding.

    • How long did you let it sit and culture? And, do you think it stayed really warm inside the towels? Two reasons that mine have turned out runny are those…I didn’t let it culture long enough (I have the best results if it cultures overnight) or, I didn’t wrap it in thick enough towels when it was still really warm to keep in warm enough.

      Good luck, and post how you do with round two, please!!!

      Lindsey

  3. Bonnie Simon says:

    I make yogurt in a yogurt machine about twice a week, but I tried your recipe and it worked beautifully! Thank you for posting it!

    My experience has been that heating the milk to a higher temperature produces a thicker yogurt. I always heat it in the microwave too and if I don’t heat it long enough then I get a very thin yogurt.

  4. mom4truth says:

    Okay. My goat yogurt is sitting. 4-8 hours to go. Here’s praying I didn’t just waste good milk and precious time!

    Thanks for the recipe!

    • Awesome! Good luck! And, if it doesn’t turn out like thick yogurt…it is still very good and edible…you just give it a different name. You can call it a yogurt drink, or a special sauce, or whatever creative term you can come up with. I made some a couple weeks ago with a Greek yogurt starter that didn’t turn out thick at all. I just put honey and vanilla in it and poured it over fruit, then drank the rest. It was delicious! I’m of the opinion that you can’t ruin yogurt or cheese. You just name it something else and enjoy it! Lindsey

  5. Lisa A says:

    Thanks for posting this! I’ve been wishing I’d taken the time to write it down when you shared your technique with us during class. :)

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